Justmeans Insights Brings Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting to Life

Oct 18, 2011 1:45 PM ET

By Harry Stevens

Last week, we introduced Justmeans Insights, the first ever tool that gives users the power to compare companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance across over 100 data points using a data visualization tool developed by Justmeans.

What Is Justmeans Insights?
Justmeans Insights is a response to a multitude of rankings and ratings in the CSR space that do not adequately explain the data on which they are based or the methodology by which they are assessed. So beyond simply creating a new ranking, our goal with Justmeans Insights is to provide a dashboard that allows users to actually compare one company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance to its peers and competitors across over 100 data points. These data points can be cross-referenced with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G3.1 guidelines.

We also did away with general, non-industry-specific rankings because it’s just not useful to compare companies that operate in different industries. Comparing a grocery store company and an aeronautics company is even more futile than comparing apples and oranges – it’s comparing a vendor of apples and oranges to a vendor of military grade jets! So knowing that one company beats out the other in a CSR ranking isn’t enlightening in any way. Instead, we opted to create industry-specific rankings, starting with Pharmaceuticals, Computers & Peripherals, and Semi-Conductors. We’ll be rolling out rankings and data for Energy, Telecommunications, Utilities and more in the near future. The rankings were produced in partnership with CRD Analytics using their SmartView(R) 360 methodology which also powers several investable indexes including the NASDAQ OMX CRD Global Sustainability Index (QCRD).

Every single data point is tied to the publicly available document from which it was culled, so users are able to verify the veracity of the data. Most of these documents are CSR reports – 100+ page PDFs that for the first time will be easily digestible and comparable using the Justmeans’ data visualization tool. Ultimately, Justmeans Insights will make ESG reporting relevant to all types of stakeholders, from CSR practitioners and socially responsible investors to journalists and consumers. "As a solely data-driven process, Justmeans Insights puts the interpretation of CSR performance back into the hands of stakeholders in a material and highly transparent way," said Benjamin Whitney, Lead Research Analyst for Justmeans Insights. "Market sustainability and environmental sustainability cannot be reconciled without a transparent and verifiable data-driven process."

How Does Justmeans Insights Work?
The graphs that you create with the data visualization tool can be shared and embedded. So while I can go on and on about how amazing this tool is, I’d rather let Justmeans Insights speak for itself. Without further ado, let's see what it can do!

Recently, there's been a lot of attention focused on the massive quantity of water needed to manufacture semiconductors. Justmeans Insights lets me find out just how much water semiconductor manufacturing companies have used for the past four years (Scroll your mouse over the bars on the graph to find more detailed numbers):

This graph shows total water use since 2007 for Intel, Texas Instruments, and STMicroelectronics. In 2010, for example, Intel used 30,661,835 cubic meters of water, STMicroelectronics used 27,736,000 cubic meters of water, and Texas Instruments used 20,819,765 cubic meters of water. But this comparison isn't quite fair — larger companies should be expected to use more water in their operations, and the companies shown in the above graph are not all the same size. How do we account for that? Well, Justmeans Insights also has the power to normalize the data to annual revenue. So let's look at this graph again, with the figures for total water use divided by millions USD$ annual revenue:

When we normalize by revenue, the data paint a much different picture. In 2010, for example, Intel used more total water than its competitors, and clearly Intel's total water usage has been trending upwards since 2007. However, we can see that, when normalized by revenue, Intel is actually an industry leader in cutting down on water usage. Moreover, Intel has done a great job of maintaining relatively low and stable water usage in comparison to its competitors.

And how has Intel managed to keep its water usage intensity stable despite growing as a company? Quite simply, Intel has increased its water recycling dramatically. Let's go back to Justmeans Insights for the data:

As the graph shows, as Intel used more water, it also recycled much more water, which has gone a long way towards decreasing its total consumption. While you can read case studies that suggest that Intel cares about water recycling (for example here, and here), Justmeans Insights is the only place you can go to confirm it using our data visualization tools.

Ultimately, by using Justmeans Insights, I found out with a few mouse clicks what would have taken hours upon hours of research to learn. And keep in mind that subscribers to Justmeans Insights can easily find out exactly where the data came from because every data point is linked to the source document from which it was culled. It's a dream for anyone who wants to cut through the anectodal evidence to gain a deep understanding of companies' CSR performance.

For all this and more, subscribe to Justmeans Insights today!